Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Long Tip-Toe

My office is quiet enough that I think twice before I set a key on a metal shelf. The slightest rustle, the faintest clink becomes a car alarm or a fog horn. The only sanctioned sounds are the tapping of computer keys and the whirring of the ventilation system.

Apart from those, we are ...  silent. We are the hushed stacks of an old-fashioned library. We are the quiet car of the Northeast Regional. 

Which is not to say that people don't meet and talk and laugh here. These things are done. But they're the exceptions and not the rule. A library stillness rules this place. 

For the most part the quiet is helpful, since I spend most of my work hours writing and editing, but it's also unnatural — as if too many people are holding their breath. And woe to the person who wants a Tic-Tac. Retrieving those hard little mints from their noisy plastic boxes is the aural equivalent of the 4th of July fireworks. 

Over time, though, the quiet has become contagious. Since I began working here 14 months ago, I move more slowly in an attempt to move more quietly. I set down my teacup with great care. I close my file cabinets with consideration. The enforced quiet has become a long tip-toe, a slow soft shoe, a mindfulness exercise that never ends. 

Labels: ,

blogger counters